The University of North Carolina Wilmington is ranked highly yet again among the nationís public universities on Kiplingerís Best Values list in 2012, rising to 15th from 27th, a position it held for the last two years.
The new ranking placed UNCW four slots ahead of North Carolina State University. The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill placed first on the list for the 11th consecutive year.
Kiplingerís website reports the ranking of universities is based on measurable criteria, including tuition, fees, room and board, and the availability of financial aid.
The in-state costs to attend UNCW total $14,159 per year, with a based aid for $7,367. The average debt after graduation, another Kiplinger judging criteria, is $19,277.
Costs for in-state students for UNC Chapel Hill and NCSU are $17,628 and $16,554, respectively.
"While the recognition from Kiplingerís is much appreciated and while we do agree that UNCW provides its students with the highest quality education at an affordable price, the university is focused on its own goals of improving the graduation and retention of our students," said UNCW Provost Cathy Barlow.
She added, "While we are not motivated to make changes or improve based on external rankings, it is gratifying when those rankings recognize that our focus on the needs of our students has subsequently resulted in a significant improvement in graduation and retention rates."
Aside from affordability, the ranking weighs desirable academic variables taking into account the four-year graduation rate and the percentage of students that return for sophomore year. The list also considers standardized test scores of entering students and the student-to-teacher ratio.
As indicated by Kiplinger, UNCW has an admission rate of 57 percent and a four-year graduation rate of 45 percent. Comparatively, UNC Chapel Hill has a 32 percent admission rate and 76 percent four-year graduation rate, and NCSU has an admission rate of 54 percent and 41 percent four-year graduation rate.
The jump in rankings on the Best Values list came at a critical time for UNCW as tuition costs increase and universities throughout the North Carolina University system are experiencing budget cuts. On July 7, 2011, the North Carolina Board of Governors approved a budget reduction for UNCW totaling $16.57 million.